Deep and meaningful pursuits, such as establishing a home workout routine or learning a new skill, are great components of a healthy lifestyle. But there’s also nothing wrong with having some lighthearted fun online by tracking sharks, exploring the stars, or doing something quick and creative! The limits to what you can do are endless.
With this in mind, we’ve come up with 22 online activities that you can turn to when you need a break, a distraction or just something to make you smile. We’d love to hear which ones you enjoyed most.
1. Join “Let’s Rock the Lockdown” on Facebook
Let’s Rock the Lockdown is a Facebook group that was created to unite people during lockdown. It now has more than 16,000 people of all ages who come together to enjoy one another’s musical talents. The group hosts online open mic nights where they sing, play musical instruments or both. If you’d like to join in, then all you have to do is send a message to the group admin who will organise you a time slot. Otherwise, just sit back, relax and enjoy the music!
2. Track sharks, dolphins and turtles with OSEARCH Tracker
This tracker can either be downloaded as an app or accessed online. It lets you keep track of tagged ocean animals around the world by showing you where they currently are and where they’ve recently been. You can find out each animal’s name, as well as their weight and length! If you log in regularly, you can search for your favourite animal by name and see where he or she has ended up. My favourite is a White Shark, named Helena. She’s 12ft 5ins, weighs 1314lbs, and I last spotted her along the Atlantic Coast of North Carolina! Who will your favourite animal be?
3. Meet Jan in the woods
Jan has created a YouTube page dedicated to appreciating the natural world. With various videos focussed on topics like forest bathing, gardening, and wildlife, she aims to bring people a calming and mindful experience by helping them to connect with nature.
4. Print off some free drawings to colour
Colouring is a relaxing activity that will keep you busy and allow you to get creative with your colour palette. Favecrafts has a range of different drawings that you can print out and colour.
5. Explore live cams around the world
Sometimes it can be nice to have a change of scenery to break up our day-to-day routines. YouTube and Explore have plenty of live webcams from around the world that you can have a nosy at when you’ve got some spare time.
Our favourite ones are:
- The Live Puppy Playroom and The Kitten Rescue Sanctuary – see what puppies and kittens in America are getting up to when they think no one is watching.
- A stunning, real-time view of the Canal of Cannaregio and Guglie Bridge in Venice – the colours are amazing!
- Gorilla Forest Corridor – check in with gorillas in the eastern Congo.
6. Paint with flames
Are your creative skills on fire? With this tool, they will be! Flame Painter is an experimental tool that will allow you to create some cool graphic designs. It can be as precise or as random as you like, and it’s a great opportunity to express yourself.
7. Listen to a TED talk
TED talks cover all sorts of topics from personal growth to business through to community. They can be incredibly motivational and are always given by people who have a genuine passion for their choice of topic. If you’re looking for some motivation, inspiration or you just fancy learning something new without getting your head stuck into a course, then it’s worth searching for a relevant TED talk.
8. Let go of worrying thoughts with Pixel Thoughts
Pixel Thoughts is a very basic tool which allows you to write down a worry and then watch it get smaller and smaller, at the same time as positive messages are flashing up on the screen. It won’t completely fix all your problems but it might help you forget them for a few moments. Just the sentiment behind the tool was enough to make me smile!
9. Use up what you have in your kitchen with a SuperCook recipe
Got a few random ingredients in your kitchen cupboards that you’re not sure what to do with? SuperCook will ask you what these food items are before suggesting recipes that use these ingredients. Never has there been a better time to use a website like this!
10. Play: Quick Draw
This little game is highly addictive, so play at your own risk! Get ready to practice your doodling skills…
11. Go back in time with The Musical Time Machine
With this musical time machine you can listen to music from any decade and country of your choice. Visit Brazil in the 1960s or China in the 1990s, or if you’re not sure what you’d like to listen to then simply choose the shuffle option, and listen to the curator’s choice. You can also submit your own musical suggestions! The creators of Radiooooo built this tool with the goal of broadening people’s horizons through musical culture.
12. Find the invisible cow
If you’ve got a spare couple of minutes, then why not find the invisible cow? The louder the voice shouts “COW!” the closer you are to finding him or her. Click when you think you’ve found their hiding place.
13. Create your own background noise
A Soft Murmur has a range of relaxing sounds including rain, waves and birds chirping that you can listen to when you’re trying to wave away distractions. You can blend sounds together until you find the perfect mix.
14. Send someone a bear hug
Would you like to make someone’s day by sending them something to make them smile? BearHugs Gifts have a number of fun and thoughtful letterbox-friendly packages that you can send to loved ones. Boxes come in a range of different sizes and prices, but each box is opened to reveal outstretched paws, and a ‘Consider this a bear hug’ message. Contents of the box could include anything from a chocolate teddy bear and a ‘hugs’ card, to a mini tea and biscuits kit (with a mug included!).
15. Explore the stars
100,000 Stars is one of the most beautiful things that I’ve seen on the internet. It allows you to explore the universe and learn about the stars. You get to navigate your own way around the galaxy and zoom in on stars of interest (including the sun) when you want to find out more. If you don’t fancy guiding your own way around or you don’t know where to start, you can also choose to take an existing tour. You might also like to have a read of our article An introduction to stargazing to find out more.
16. See how your favourite websites have evolved over the years
Sometimes we only remember how much things have changed when we take a look back at the past. Wayback Machine has more than 431 billion archived web pages that have been collected over the last couple of decades. Have you ever wondered what your favourite website looked like 20 years ago? You probably will now! The picture above was what Google looked like in 1997!
17. Watch tornado chasers live
Tornadoes are fascinating beasts that many of us will only ever see on TV and for some reason, this makes them even more intriguing! Severe Studios are offering users the chance to experience live storm chasing with some top storm chasers. Due to the unpredictability of the weather, you will just have to log on every now and then to see if you can catch some live streaming. But in the meantime, there’s also an archive of tornado videos that date back as far as July 2008 for you to enjoy.
18. Complete a Rubix cube
If you’ve always wanted to try a Rubix cube, then now you can – online! You can still rotate it, shuffle it and realign it like you would with the 3D version. If you complete it once, then why not do it again and see if you can beat your previous time?
19. Go on a random adventure with MapCrunch
When you arrive on MapCrunch’s website, all you have to do is hit ‘Go’ and you will be transported to a random Google street view of a location anywhere in the world. On my first three goes I went to Thailand, France, and Singapore!
20. Get rewarded for filling out surveys
If you’ve got a few minutes spare, then why not earn a reward or two? There are plenty of websites and smartphone apps that will allow you to earn cash or vouchers by taking as little as two minutes to give your opinion on various different topics.
The great thing about these apps and websites is that you can usually access them anytime, anywhere – on the bus, the train, or during your lunch break at work.
21. Do nothing for two minutes
This site encourages you to sit back, relax and do nothing for two minutes while you listen to the sound of the waves. If you touch your mouse or keyboard, then the two minutes starts again. If you’re struggling to switch off and do nothing, then there can be something psychological about being given permission to, which this handy tool does. If you enjoy doing nothing for two minutes and staying in the present moment, then you carry on beyond the two minutes for as long as it brings you peace.
If you like the feeling of taking some quiet moments for yourself and keeping your mind present, then why not read our article 10 everyday activities to help you stay in the present moment, or our Introductory guide to mindfulness?
22. Listen to Boom Radio
Boom Radio is a national radio station aimed at baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964). It’s a mix of music, conversations, and presenter personality – and the overarching feedback from listeners is that the station “makes them feel young again”.
You can listen for free by following the link below. You might also want to read our interview with Boom Radio founder Phil Riley on his reasons for setting up the station – which you can do here.